This lab activity explores how Jupiter's four largest moons appear from Earth as they move in their orbits. What instrument allowed Galileo to make this discovery? How could he tell the difference between starts, planets, and moons when they all appear as tiny dots of light? Why was this discovery so historic?
❑ What was Galileo’s historic discovery and why was it such a departure?
❑ How could he identify tiny dots of light as stars, planets, or moons?
❑ What new-fangled technology did Galileo need to make this discovery?
♦ Galileo discovered four moons of Jupiter by studying their movements on subsequent nights.
♦ Jovian moons have different orbital periods.
♦ Jupiter’s moon’s apparent positions change from night to night.
VA SOL ES.3.d
Basketball plus 4 smaller balls; string; tape; digital camera (preferred), plastic bowls can be helpful to hold basketball.
This lab takes about 40 minutes (more with writing assignments)
Extensive teacher notes address the many questions that come up. You shouldn’t have to do outside research on this topic unless you want to.
• Scaffolded writing prompts & lab reporting
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